Well, that didn’t take long. It turns out that Image will be the publisher of Mark Millar’s “Netflix Comics” imprint instead of Dark Horse. I read that the main concern with having Image act as a publisher for the imprint was that the work-for-hire nature of some of Millar’s projects would clash with the company’s reputation as a creator-first place. Of course, this argument ignores the fact that Image continues to publish plenty of work-for-hire titles from their Top Cow and Extreme imprints, along with “Spawn” whenever Todd McFarlane takes one of his periodic breaks from writing it. This is still seen as a temporary measure until Netflix can get its own publishing operation set up. We’ll see how that goes since the streaming giant’s focus has always been on, well, streaming so one has to wonder just how much they’re going to invest in an actual comics publishing operation. They may see it as better to just let Image keep handling things.
Barrier #’s 1-5 (of 5): Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin, the creative team who brought us “The Private Eye” (as well as one of the all-time great “Doctor Strange” stories in “The Oath”), have consented to let another one of their digital titles be published in physical form. “Barrier” is described as a small-town crime story about violence, language, and illegal immigration… with a sci-fi twist. My best guess is that it’s going to involve an alien crash-landing in the town. How else are you going to make the concept of illegal immigration interesting to the genre crowd? While I really liked “The Private Eye,” I had honestly forgotten that this was a thing. The first digital issue came out a couple years ago and didn’t receive nearly the same level of attention. Where the news sites always let you know when a new issue of “The Private Eye” dropped, “Barrier” flew under the radar to the point that I didn’t even know it had been completed until I saw these solicitations. Regardless of its low profile, Vaughan and Martin’s track record is well-deserved so this should be worth your time.
Death or Glory #1: Glory’s father is dying and in order to pay for his life-saving surgery she’s going to pull off four heists over five thousand miles in three days. That’s a tall order for any person, let alone one who isn’t going to have to deal with mobsters, crooked cops, and a psycho ex-husband. But Glory was raised off the grid in a convoy of truckers so I’m willing to bet she’s acquired all sorts of useful skills to help her out on this quest. “Death or Glory” comes to us from Rick Remender and it’s not immediately clear what side of him we’ll be getting here. Is it the side that luxuriates in grinding down his characters to make them suffer (see also: “Low,” the worst parts of “Black Science”), or the side that can see that suffering and cackle madly (“Deadly Class,” whenever Garlis is around in “Seven to Eternity”)? I want to think that it’s the latter given that the setup seems primed for high-energy action. Along for the ride as artist is Bengal, who has show in the past that he’s perfectly suited for stuff like this.
Anjelic vol. 1: Humanity has been gone for centuries and all that’s left are the genetically modified animals they made to fight their wars for them. These animals live their lives going through the routines laid out for them, but a young winged monkey named Qora wants something more. So far so standard YA material. Yet this comes from writer Si Spurrier who always makes sure that there’s more going on in his stories besides the basic summaries that accompany them. This also sounds like it’ll make a nice companion piece to his (decidedly not all-ages) series “The Spire.” My only concern is the “vol. 1” in the title. While Spurrier’s stories are usually very good, they tend to not sell all that well. So if there is going to be a second volume we might be in for a wait unless this sells really well *hint hint*.
Stray Bullets: Sunshine & Roses vol. 1: FUCKING FINALLY! I’ve been waiting for this series to be collected in some form for years now. To the point where I was resigned to waiting for an all-in-one collection like the “Uber Alles” edition of the original series from even further back. But the wait is over! Now I can finally enjoy more “Stray Bullets” goodness once May rolls around.
Black Magick vol. 2: Awakenings Part Two: Greg Rucka and Nicola Scott’s “sheriff who is also a witch” series gets a second volume. Kind of late for them to capitalize on the good buzz their “Wonder Woman: Year One” arc earned, I would think. The first volume of this was… fine. I’ll be picking this up to see if it can scale to the kind of quality I’ve come to expect from Rucka and Scott. You know, like what they displayed in their “Wonder Woman” arc. While we’re on the subject of things I’m expecting better from...
Extremity vol. 2: Warrior: Vol. 1 had some truly phenomenal art from creator Daniel Warren Johnson. Unfortunately, the writing and character work was as bog-standard as you could get. I don’t have a lot of time for stories that tell me that war is really messed up and can make good people do bad things -- especially when they’re told as straightforwardly as they were in vol. 1 My hope is that Johnson got the tropes out of his system in that volume and has some truly ingenious twists planned for… Ah, who am I kidding. I’m just going to go in expecting more great art propping up a sub-par story.
Motor Crush vol. 2: Why yes, it looks like we’ve hit a trifecta of series that had underwhelming first volumes that I’m expecting more from their second volumes. Should I just cut my losses and not pick up any of them? As a rule, I tend to do that only for truly awful first volumes. There’s always the chance the creative team could click in vol. 2. Right? The chance for improvement with this series is high, at least, as co-writers Brenden Fletcher and Cameron Stewart just have to not spend the entire volume having bad things happen to their protagonist. I’m sure they can do that, so long as they’re not turning to someone like Remender for advice on how to make it happen.